Dr Lori pic

Gold jewelry

If you want to collect gold jewelry, you need deep pockets, good taste, and the ability to recognize the all-important and complex markings that can be found on many pieces of gold jewelry. These marks will demonstrate value wherever it is: at the thrift store, yard sale, antiques shop, estate sale, even in grandma’s jewelry box.

Before buying a piece of jewelry, consider many factors such as design, style, complexity, materials, etc. One important trait of gold jewelry is weight. As people traded items internationally throughout history, they needed a standardized weight system. In 1828, the United States started to use troy ounces to weigh precious metals. Many other countries used this standard too. The mark of troy ounces is a mark that will be found on some pieces of jewelry, silver pieces, and other items. A troy ounce is a unit of measurement that is commonly used to measure precious metals. The weight of a gold piece of jewelry can be measured in grams or troy ounces. A troy ounce is a common term used in the jewelry arena and 1 troy ounce equals approximately 31 grams. The troy ounce unit of measurement dates back to the Middle Ages, first used in Troyes, France.

Karats and Purity Marks

Karat weight is another measure that is important to the gold jewelry collector. Not to be confused with carats with a c, the karat with a k that we are going to discuss relates to precious metals and not to precious gemstones. Karat weight refers to the purity or fineness amount in gold, silver, platinum, and other precious metals.

A piece of gold jewelry that is 24 karat gold is considered pure gold. That means that a 24 karat gold piece is not mixed with any other metals or alloys. Pure gold does not have any other alloys mixed with it. Pure gold has a 24 karat weight. Some of the most common karat weights are not 24 karats. Instead, common karat weights are less than 24 karats. These pieces are still quite fine but they are not pure gold. Other fineness measurements are 18 karat gold which measures 75% pure gold and 14 karat gold which measures 58.5% pure gold. These karat weights are very common and are often used in fine jewelry pieces like necklaces, rings, earrings, bracelets, brooches, pins, anklets, pendants, etc. Other karat weights are 22 karat gold which measures 91.7% pure gold and 10 karat gold which measures 41.7% pure gold.

International Gold

To call a piece “gold” in a certain country then that piece of jewelry must have a particular amount of gold fineness or level of gold purity. The particular amount of gold fineness or gold purity may be different in particular countries around the world. Jewelry that is considered gold differs by country. For instance, Great Britain’s jewelry is considered gold if it has a fineness of at least 9 karats weight. In the United States, 10 karat weight is the minimum for a piece to be considered gold from Maine to California including Alaska and Hawaii. So, you could purchase gold abroad that has a lower karat weight than the same piece bought at home in America.

When you are collecting gold, learn the marks and know how the weights and measurements impact the value and collectability of gold jewelry.

Dr. Lori Verderame is the award-winning Ph.D. antiques appraiser on History channel’s #1 show, The Curse of Oak Island. Visit www.DrLoriV.com and www.YouTube.com/DrLoriV or call (888) 431-1010.

Images: (Photo credit: Staff of www.DrLoriV.com)

1. Dr. Lori – headshot

2. Gold jewelry